My Tone Ring Test Project
Much has been attributed to the tone rings found in the Gibson banjos produced between
1927 and about 1941.  Some people claim that the wonderful tone of the classic bluegrass  
recordings can only be produced by a pre-war, flat-top tone ring.  Since only a few
hundred of these were ever produced, that would make these some very desirable pieces
of metal to have!!  In response to the popularity and escalating prices of these few old
banjos, many companies and individuals have gone on the quest to reproduce the same
tonal qualities found in those old Gibsons.  Have they succeeded?  After all the years of
research and experimentation with the latest technologies, it is still widely held that the "Pre
War" tone (whatever that is) has NOT been re-created.

In order to look into this sticky debate objectively, I have set off on a project to compare
tone rings, complete with sound files for you to listen and judge for yourself.  

Here is my approach:
Start with a raw, well-aged maple rim, built to the exact specifications of the good pre-war
Beginning with the largest dimensioned-ring, put each ring in the same banjo and try it out
with the same set-up variables.  The sequence will be:
- Pre-war TB-11 simple brass hoop
- Pre-war 40-hole Archtop
- Modern rings with high skirt offset
- Pre-War Flathead Ring
- Modern rings with 3/8" skirt offset

The idea here is to keep as many variables constant as possible.  Since the wooden rim is
believed to be very influential on the tone of a banjo, this approach is designed to use the
exact same rim through all the different tone rings, even though they are of different